By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Largest ever gift for Ogeechee Technical College will fund Associate of Science in Nursing degree
George W. Strickland Jr. Foundation donates $1.5 million
Ogeechee Technical College student Alayna Smith, shown above, will be able to earn an Associate of Science in Nursing degree thanks to the George W. Strickland Jr. Foundation.

The largest endowment gift in the history of Ogeechee Technical College will help establish an Associate of Science in Nursing degree at the college.

According to a release from Ogeechee Tech, the George W. Strickland Jr. Foundation and its Board of Directors signed an agreement with the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation to fund an endowment worth $1.5 million. The endowment will fund the Nursing degree pathway, which is scheduled to accept its first cohort in January of 2024.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Strickland Foundation for once again helping us meet the needs of our community,” OTC President Lori Durden said. “Our healthcare systems are seeing a major shortage of qualified nurses and having the ability to educate and graduate both skilled LPN’s and RN’s is going to have a significant positive impact on the workforce in our region.”

The self-perpetuating endowment will provide $150,000 a year for 10 years to support staffing needs to launch the degree, according to the release. 

"The (Nursing) degree is going to have such a positive impact on not only East Georgia Regional Medical Center, but our entire region,” said Stephen Pennington, CEO of EGRMC.  “We absolutely love hiring LPN graduates from OTC's nationally ranked program as well as other Allied Health Professionals. The OTC grads are well trained and have positive, can-do attitudes. Now, the LPNs can advance their professional and personal lives right here at OTC in Statesboro. The new program will impact our healthcare community for years to come."

In addition to the recent gift, the Strickland Foundation has supported capital projects at Ogeechee Tech like the Jack and Muriel Strickland building in Hagan, as well as contributions to help retain OTC students through the Strickland Guarantee fund.

George W. Strickland, or “Mr. Jack” as his employees knew him, founded Evans Concrete in 1948, and before his death in 2010, its footprint reached and employed residents from approximately 16 counties in southeast Georgia.

The foundation looks to support education efforts in the following 16 counties – Bulloch, Evans, Screven, Bryan, Candler, Emanuel, Jenkins, Effingham, Tattnall, Liberty, Toombs, Burke, Appling, Wayne, Glynn and Long.

The late George 'Jack' Strickland Jr.

“Mr. Jack was very specific regarding his vision and purpose for the foundation,” said Sharon Deloach, a board member of the George W. Strickland, Jr. Foundation. “He supported education and his community, and he loved his employees. As board members, our only mission is to carry out Mr. Jack’s wishes – To inspire hope, strengthen community through education and contribute to the betterment of mankind.”

The new Associate in Nursing degree will initially accept 24 students in its first cohort in hopes to begin closing the nursing gap shortage in the region, according to the release. Nurses make up the largest segment of the health profession and the program will allow students to earn their RN credentials and to enter the workforce with the ability to administer medication, treatments and offer educational advice to patients.

Bill Lee, CEO of Evans Memorial Hospital, said: “As one of Georgia’s 66 rural hospitals, Evans Memorial is thrilled to partner with OTC on this outstanding program to enhance the professional practice of nursing. We continue to experience shortfalls with nursing recruitment and this program will work to ensure a continued pipeline for those interested in a career that involves caring for our community.”

Michelle Davis, VP for College Advancement at OTC, said the college is set to provide the training necessary to continue building a local healthcare work force.

“OTC is poised and ready to provide hospital simulations and hands-on training for students enrolled in the program,” she said. “Partnering with the Strickland Foundation to provide staff that can help us train future RN’s is a critical piece in making this all come together.”

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter